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PAC chairman seeks advice on UDC/ Joy Douglas issue

BY BALFORD HENRY Senior staff reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com

Tuesday, May 27, 2014    

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CHAIRMAN of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of the House of Representatives, Audley Shaw, said last night that he is unable to comment on the issues related to former UDC general manager Joy Douglas' response to the results of a performance audit conducted by the Auditor General in November 2012.

"I will not be able to comment on the issue until I have discussed it with the auditor general and the secretary to the Public Accounts Committee," Shaw said last night.

The Opposition MP and spokesman on finance and planning, who spoke last night with the Jamaica Observer, was reacting to Douglas' concern that her response to the auditor general's report has not been addressed by the PAC.

"The performance audit tabled by the auditor general in Parliament in November 2012, and which has been publicly ventilated, has not adequately or accurately outlined the situation that confronted me when I assumed the helm of the corporation as its acting general manager in December 2007, and the corrective steps that were taken even as some of those challenges continued and new ones emerged through to December 2011 when I demitted office as general manager," Douglas said in her 235-page response to the audit.

"I cannot claim that mistakes were not made; no one is perfect. But, having become seized of the gravity and magnitude of the issues facing the UDC Group, I set about doing something about it, even while ensuring that the corporation delivered tangible development projects, recommenced the process of planning and designating areas, and moving back into a position of solvency," she added.

"I therefore humbly request that the Parliament enquire into this matter, so that all the facts are made public," she had requested in March last year. More than a year later, Douglas says she is still concerned that the PAC has not seen it fit to address the issues arising from the auditor general's report, as well as her response.

Douglas said that she is "humbly" requesting that Parliament enquires into the matter to:

* ensure that a positive enabling environment is created for the UDC's effective operation;

* review the nature of the relationship between the auditor general, the external auditor and the internal auditor;

* ensure that performance audits of the UDC are regularly scheduled;

* launch a special enquiry into the UDC to: (a) manage public hearings on the UDC Act as part of the process of the review and amendment of the Act; and (b) obtain regular updates from the board and management of the corporation on the corrective steps being taken by the organisation, with respect to the issues and strategic direction identified in this report, as well as others that will no doubt emerge as the Parliament's enquiry continues.

But Shaw insisted last night that, while he could not object to the PAC deliberating on the issues raised by Douglas in her response, it would depend on the report he receives from the auditor general, as well as this own committee staff, about the complaints she has made. He said that he expects to be in a position to comment on the issue by today.

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